Turn your eyes to the night skies for a sight to behold.
The Geminids meteor shower is almost here, and it's will bring all of the beauty of a holiday light show to the stars. Known for colorful, shooting stars, fireballs, and long-lasting tails, the Geminids are considered the best meteor shower of the whole year in terms of quantity. This prolific shower usually sends up to 120 shooting stars flying through the sky per hour.
Unfortunately, the usually welcome, nearly full moon will create less-than-optimal viewing this year. Its light will mean that only the brightest of the Geminids will be visible, but it's still worth a gaze skyward to catch the 30 or so visible meteors per hour.
"It won't be a total washout, because the Geminids have a lot of fireballs in them," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.
The best time to see them is late night Friday, Dec. 13 into the early morning of Dec. 14. They will be most visible about 2 a.m. in your local time zone, but you can still catch a few meteors in the hours before and after.
Courtesy of Space.com
The Geminids originate from the constellation Gemini, which you can find easily by pinpointing Orion's Belt and looking up and to the left. They come from the asteroid 3200 Pantheon. Space.com suggests looking slightly away from Gemini to see meteors with longer tails. However, you don't need to know the origination point of a meteor shower to see meteors, as they will be visible across the sky.
"The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records — the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River — and is still going strong. In fact, it's growing stronger. That's because Jupiter's gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower's source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries," says Space.com.
In addition to the Geminids, we will also be treated to the Ursids meteor shower, which is the final meteor shower of the year. It will peak from Dec. 21-22, bringing about 10 meteors per hour.